…with double the rocks and twigs.
I realize it is becoming clear how easily distracted I am, but Gdaybloke over at Lost Hemisphere mentioned the Wold Guardian in a recent article, and now I’m becoming intrigued with my friendly neighborhood tree huggers, the Circle Oroboros.
To be honest, Hordes has always been a little less interesting to me overall than Warmachine. I like steampunk conceptually, I prefer the aesthetics of the more recent historical inspirations for the forces and cultures of Warmachine over the ancient societies of Hordes (despite my degree in Archaeology), and I like the jacks a little more than most of the beasts. Of the existing Hordes factions, I like the look of the Skorne the most (especially the Titans), and they had heretofore seemed like the most interesting faction. But then the Wold Guardian was released, and I started thinking Druish.
Now I have always liked the idea of the Wold “beasts”. I wrote my thesis on megalithic structures in prehistoric Europe, so obviously it’s a topic that interests me. But the execution has felt a little lackluster, to be honest. Even the big daddy, Megalith himself, seems a little bland to my eye. Now the Wold Guardian, on the other hand, has the weighty feel I would expect from the constructs: if I were going to make a creature out of stone and then animate it, I’d choose the biggest boulders I could find. I also like the fact that the Wold Guardian has a pretty direct approach to his role, which is smashing things, smashing them to bits. The mental image of two of these guys running around slamming targets into the neighboring county really gives me some wicked giggles.
The question then arises as to what I should take with them. I understand that Circle is getting a new Warlock at some point, and some players feel potentially it will be a construct-oriented caster to give some options aside from Baldur the Stonecleaver, but for the moment, Baldur sounds like my choice. Now Baldur seems very closely tied to the Woldwarden and/or Megalith–very explicitly via Megalith’s ability to heal Baldur, and inherently via the Woldwarden’s ability to place a forest anywhere as a target for Baldur’s Forest Walk ability. The Woldwarden’s animus benefits the army as a whole via creating cover for their advance, Megalith’s animus is more offensively beneficial and includes a defenive benefit as well, in proportion to his increased point cost.
The Shifting Stones seem to be a natural fit for a force built with Constructs. After that, the main recommendations appear to be Tharn Bloodtrackers and Druids of Oroboros (with UA). The Bloodtrackers mainly appeal to me in game terms because they are good troops who have a little flexibility and who benefit from the feat and Stone Skin. While the Bloodtracker models have grown on me quite a bit since my negative first impression, I am terrible at painting flesh, so I fear I would get very bad results if I had to paint that much of it. The Druids of Oroboros are inherently strong on defense, and benefit even further from increased defenses and immunities granted by Baldur. I like that the Druids seem to be similar to the Retribution Battle Mages in utility and effect on the battlefield beyond pure damage; that said, I think the Druids’ Medicate ability means I am wasting a point or two on an ability I can’t use, since the warbeasts I have chosen are not “living” models.
I think it’s interesting that the main recommended units for Baldur are ranged, though his spells and abilities would benefit melee units, as well. Since a force like Khador is known for being already slow, the speed penalty of Iron Flesh isn’t something Khador players seem to try to avoid. Since the Circle forces are characterized as being fast, however, the loss of speed (and the commensurate loss of Charge) brought about by Stone Skin is a significant tradeoff for the benefits. That said, I feel like the proper order of operations could be followed to use Stone Skin with Melee units advancing under cover of Baldur’s other abilities. I imagine that the new Warpborn Skinwalkers could make remarkable use of Stone Skin when engaged in melee.
For solos, forum wisdom seems to recommend the Blackclad Wayfarer, who seems to fill a role similar to that of Khador’s Koldun Lord in some ways and who gives the Shifting Stones further value for points spent. I really don’t see a lot of other interesting solos among the Circle forces, at least not as far as this list goes. The Lord of the Feast seems a solid addition to lists, and would probably work well with Baldur, but at four points in a beast-heavy list, I think I’d rather spread the points wider. The War Wolf might help in some capacity even without the Reeves if I have a spare point, but he spends at least some fractional value on the specific synergy with the Reeves (who generally seem not to be recommended over units such as the Nyss Hunters as having value for points spent).
Now I return to pondering the Wold Guardians. I think my serial obstinacy may get the better of me here, since likely I would not get the same utility from a pair of them as I might from a pair of Woldwardens, or a Woldwarden and Megalith plus a Wold Guardian. Indeed the forum-goers recommend an array of Megalith-Woldwarden-Wold Guardian. But I still really like the thought of two Guardians at a time.
I have messed around with a few lists built around these principle units, but I don’t really know enough about the faction to make any commitments. I do note that Circle seems to really not feel like it has the variety of the Warmachine factions I have delved into. I feel like the faction could use a few more solos and another 1-point unit that isn’t so tied to the Reeves (theoretically speaking), a little more variability in unit point values overall, and probably could use another Construct-oriented Warlock, if only for variety. I’d say I remain interested in Circle after spending a week digging around in the organic foods isle–though I still want to learn more about Skorne, as well–but nothing I found there has changed my intention to start with Khador.